Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Trip to the Golden Triangle of Orissa

I had lived in Kolkata for over three years and was always wanting to visit Orissa , the near by state as I had heard of its lovely tourist attraction and its wonderful people so when the opportunity arose the first time in the winter of 1988 I decided to grab the opportunity literally in both hands (as I had to take care of my son who was three years old in one hand and baggage in the other). If I remember correctly we took the Puri express which leaves Howrah at 9 pm and reaches Bhuvaneshwar at 6 am next morning. We checked into a decent hotel with in a few kilometers of the station and my son who enjoys traveling and eating out was thrilled with the hotel's ambiance and was really excited. After a quick refreshing and sumptuous breakfast my husband left to meet his business clients leaving us to fend for ourselves.Thank fully my nephew who had just joined for his MBA at Xaviers and was really feeling bored , so far away from his parents joined us pretty soon and we decided to venture out.

Bhuvaneshwar

A Temple In Bhuvaneshwar

First we visited the Linganraj temple . This is a huge temple complex and the tower of the temple is 55 meters tall and is elaborately carved. Many shrines surround the main temple, in a courtyard stretching 250,000 sq.ft. This temple was built around 11th century and has exquisite sculptures carved all along the walls. It is made of pink stone and the grandeur of the structure was marvelous. The Sivalingam here is a Swayambhu which is 8' feet tall and there is a Bhagavathi temple in the north west side.. After spending a couple of hours in this ancient temple, we went around the famous Bindusagar lake.

Konark Temple View


25 Kms. from Bhuvaneshwar is the village Pipali famous for its applique and filigree work. The applique work consists of making patch work of motifs like elephants, flowers, with inset of mirrors on cloth with bright colours and one can get hand bags, parasols, wall hangings of this famous Pipali work. One could see tourists making a bee line to this shops to buy these things which were reasonably priced.
Another visit we made was to the Nandan Kanan wildlife sanctuary 20 Kms. from the Bhuvneshwar and enjoyed a lion safari , which was a first for us. We could literally see all the lions walking freely ,some having their lunch or some having their siesta. As we drove around the safari in an electric caged motor vehicle which prompted our young son to wonder whether we were scared of the wild lions or the other way.
Konark Temple -Front View
Next day was a Sunday and we hired a taxi to visit the Konarak and Jagannath temple. It was very warm even in the morning making us wonder whether it was really winter. We reached Konark temple,also called as the Sun temple. It was in ruins but the magic woven by the sculptors was imprinted in the stones for the future generations to marvel at the workmanship. The whole temple is in the form of a chariot with 24 wheels and it is pulled by 7 horses representing the 7 days of the week.
Konark Wheel

The wheels with intricate patterns on the spokes are really a sight to watch. We understand the Sun deity from this temple has been moved to Puri temple. It is a colossal structure . We came to know that the whole temple was submerged under sand and the archaeologist have the dug the whole place around to reinstate the temple to its present state. It is very difficult to imagine how many tonnes of earth they would have removed and how long it would have taken. All around the temple we could see various forms of animals sculpted in stone. Many were disfigured.There is Natya mandapam in front of the the temple and a very popular dance festival is conducted here every year. It is also believed that the first rays of the sun falls on this temple . We really were amazed by this stupendous structure and in my excitement I went on climbing only to realise at a later stage that getting down was a problem for me ; only I know how I got down because the climb down appeared very steep and slippery. Outside we could find lot of shops selling curios and we bought a small replica of a Konark wheel.




The Jagannath temple-The Tall Temple Tower with the flag on top



Lord Jagannath of Puri
Our next halt was at the Jagannath temple. We engaged a guide for the tour of the temple which was built in 12th century. We learnt that the guide actually was a qualified lawyer but found it attractive to give up his profession and become a professional guide as it was more lucrative. He communicated well in English.

The main dome of the temple is 218 feet tall. The temple complex was huge and here the deities are Lord Jagannath, Balabdra and Subadra. (Krishna, his brother and sister).The main gate of the temple is called Simha dhwar and we could see the two sculptures of lions guarding the front gate. In front of the Simha dhwara there is a big stupa 25' feet high which was originally at Konark but later moved to Puri . Like the main gate on east there are 3 other gates on north ,south, west. They are called Aswa dhwar, Hasti dwar,and Vyagra dwar. There are many small shrines surrounding the main temple and the whole temple is fortified with huge wall.
We had an easy darshan of the Lord and the idols were unique made of Neem wood and painted with big eyes. The idols are not fully carved but left little incomplete . it is believed that when the god himself was carving these idols in an enclosed chamber with the condition that no body should open the doors until he came out, the queen who was impatient ordered to open the chamber forcing the God to leave the work incomplete. Every 12 years these idols are replaced by new ones and there is special place inside the temple itself to rest these old idols.
The priest inside the temple carries canes ( the pieces of the carved out neem wood ) in their hands and taps it on the pilgrims head as blessing.
The unique thing about this temple is that it feeds Prasad to about 10,000 people and all this is cooked in earthen ware pots . Every day a new set of pots are used. The prasad here is called the Mahaprasad, it is believed that the God dines here and the cooking is supervised by Mahalakshmi herself. The kitchen has the capacity to cook food for about 100,000 people.We could see the food being carried by in earthen ware pots balanced on a sling. Pilgrims were waiting eagerly to collect the same.
Puri has a beautiful beach also and we did spend some time in the after noon in the scorching sun.
Rath yatra of Puri temple is very famous and lakhs of devotees converge here on those days and throng the streets to witness and participate in the rath yatra festival. The Raths are huge and magnificent and colourfully decorated and there are three charoits for the Lord Jaganath, Subhadra and Balabadra. The chariots are pulled by the devotees chanting the Lord’s name. Devotees sing and dance in front of the rath till they reach the Gundicha temple which is 3 kms away. Here the idols are kept for the next 2 days and then the return journey starts. On the day of Rath yatra even small children take small toy chariots with small replicas of the idols on the streets. Its really a sight to watch.
While returning we visited a temple called Raja Rani temple which is near Bhuvaneshwar dedicated to Brahma . The temple built of pink stone was well maintained .We could not see the deity here as the temple was closed after the noon pooja. But we circumambulated the temple and were pleased to see beautiful figurines carved on the wall of the temple.
If I ever get a chance to visit the Golden triangle I would definitely do so as I want to see this all over again.


How to Reach
As Bhuvaneshwar is the capital of Orissa it is well connected with rest of the metros by road, rail and air
Distance between Bhuvaneshwar and Konark -60 kms.
Distance between Bhuvaneshwar to Puri -70 Kms.
Distance between Konark to Puri is 35-45 kms.
Places to stay
Bhuvaneshwar has budget hotels as well as luxury hotels.
Puri also has lodging facilities but I found the place too crowded with pilgrims for a pleasant stay.

2 comments:

  1. We went from Kolkata? I thought we went when we were in chennai.....

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes we were staying in Jodhpur park. Remember after that sankarannu also visited us.He was with us during the tour.

    ReplyDelete

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